Julius Randle’s dejected message on Miami Heat outhustling New York Knicks in Game 4

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The Miami Heat are on the verge of shocking the world yet again, as they took Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks, 109-101, on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead.

As has been the case so far in the series, it wasn’t pretty, but as is usually the case with the Heat, they won by outhustling and outworking their opponent. The Knicks’ Julius Randle admitted it after the game, even saying that perhaps the Heat simply wanted it more.

Oftentimes in playoff basketball, the team that emerges victorious won’t do so because it made more shots or got better performances from its stars, but because it won the effort categories.

On Monday, Miami did exactly that.

It outrebounded the Knicks by nine and got five more offensive rebounds. Defensively, it rotated well, especially down the stretch, to prevent Knicks players from getting open looks either from 3-point range or in the paint.

On offense, the Heat moved the ball around well, making that extra pass and sometimes two extra passes in order to get New York’s defense off-balance and find the open man, and it resulted in 28 assists for them, compared to 21 for New York.

For a good portion of the game, the Knicks remained on the Heat’s heels, but there was always a sense that the Heat were still in control. With New York constantly playing catch-up, Jimmy Butler applied the finishing touches. He scored 27 points, and when the Knicks double-teamed him, he destroyed them with his passing and finished the game with 10 assists.

The series is far from over though, as the Knicks have shown some grit and toughness of their own throughout the season. They will be returning home to Madison Square Garden for Game 5, and getting a win there will not be easy for Miami.

But overcoming a 3-1 deficit to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals will be even more difficult for the Knicks, especially against a Heat team that embodies the stuff that champions are made of.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.